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Archive for the ‘The Blues Brothers’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ROSANNE CASH-Tiny Desk Concert #894 (September 23, 2019)

I don’t know all that much about Rosanne Cash (I couldn’t recall how she was related to Johnny).  I also assumed that she would be a country artist.  Yet this set is anything but country.  But I guess the key to that is that her voice isn’t country at all, it’s just good.

This blurb also blows my mind a bit about how quickly (or not) they post concerts.  This show was posted in September but was recorded in January–she had to wait quite a while to see it.

Rosanne Cash and her band arrived at NPR to play the Tiny Desk on a freezing cold, bright sunny day in January — one of those brittle, crystal clear winter days when the snow reflects the sun and there’s nowhere to hide from the light. Her intense performance had that same balance of heat and ice.

Cash plays four songs

most taken from her 2018 album She Remembers Everything, have a lot of emotional heat, but they’re shaped and sculpted by the wry wisdom of age and experience. More than at any time in her career, her spirit and approach to performance these days reflects the influence of her father, the legendary country singer Johnny Cash.

“She Remembers Everything” opens with John Leventhal on with Rosanne on acoustic guitar.  Like most of these songs, it feels slow and powerful–kind of bluesy with a dramatic chord progression.  Mid song, Leventhal switches to guitar and plays a great little solo.

When the song is over she praises everyone: “So attentive.  Like a listening room at the NPR offices.”

Up next is “The Only Thing Worth Fighting” which she co-wrote with T Bone Burnett and Lyra Lynn  This song is not so much country as western-sounding.  There’s more nice guitar work from Leventhal.

Zev Katz on bass and Dan Rieser on drums don’t do anything to single them out except for keeping the songs moving properly.  The bass does do some nice lines, but mostly, these are simple songs which need little accompaniment.

For “Everyone But Me” she takes off the guitar.  This is a lovely piano ballad after which she says, “I don’t know if the young people can relate to this song but it means more as you get older.”

The last song is from her album The River and the Thread.  She says the album won a Grammy and the last time she won a Grammy, Ronald Reagan was president.  From this she plays the cool bluesy “A Feather’s Not A Bird.”

This isn’t the kind of music I enjoyed, but I liked this Tiny Desk Concert a lot more than I thought I would based on what I thought I knew about Rosanne Cash.

[READ: August 26, 2019] The Adventures of Barry & Joe

After the election that has sent the country spiraling into a level of hell, Adam Reid wanted to do something to make decent-thinking people laugh.

When I saw first saw this, I assumed that Adam Reid was Adam Reed, the creator of Archer and other delightfully dark cartoons.  It took a while for me to realize that he isAdam Reid who is responsible for The Tiny Chef Show.

Aside from that, I don’t really have any familiarity with him.  So that’s kind of interesting, I suppose. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HELLBENDER-Hellbender (1993).

Hellbender is a band that Wells Tower was in before he became a professional writer.  He played guitar and sang backing vocals (and wrote some lyrics, but not on this album).  The drummer, Harrison Hayes is now the drummer for Les Savy Fav and the bassist and singer Al Burian is most notable for his zine Burn Collector (for a time he was the most famous former Hellbender, although I’d never heard of him).  They were always pretty small time, although their third album did receive some attention.

This first album is pretty rough–quickly made and cheaply mastered and yet there are good dynamics, cool breaks and a whole lot of punk.  Al Burian’s voice is in shouty punk mode (lyrics are not all decipherable) and although his voice works it’s a bit samey throughout the disc.  The drums don’t always sound great, but there are often cool drum breaks.  And the guitars are quite assured.  Despite the punk attitude, it’s not all flat out speed.

There are some dynamic breaks, like in the second track “Housebroken,” which has some cool moments when the drums highlight an unexpected tempo changed.  “Clocked Out” was the single they released prior to the CD and it has some real production values (and a very funny intro from a local DJ).  The guitar highlights the trebly end in a kind of ska riff which is quite different from the rest; there’s also some discernable bass lines and a cool bass/guitar solo (punk, yes, but branching out a bit).  It’s a great track.

“Two Twenty Two” made it onto a couple of local compilations.  It has a slightly less heavy feel, with some interesting guitar lines.  “Aisle Ten” has verses that end with some really heavy (reminding me of Metallica) riffs that really punctuate the vocals.  “Peeling” has some cool backing vocal chanting (as well as what sounds like an answering machine message) that sets it apart from the other songs.  “Clarence” has a really long instrumental opening (1 minute out of a 2 and a half-minute song) that shows of more of Burian’s bass lines.

“Couch” was the B-side to “Two Twenty Two” and it has better production values as well–and lots more dynamic parts.  The final song, Retread” is a sorta political song, “Do you remember when we were young–revolution seemed like fun.  I thought I could get things done by yelling at the top of my lungs.”  Not mind-blowing lyrically but a good sentiment nonetheless.

The band is very tight–their breaks and starts and stops are right on–many of their songs end suddenly and the band pulls it off very well.  When I first listened to the album, I thought it was kind of pedestrian, but after really listening, I realized this is a very well-formed debut. It’s an interesting addition to any punk fan’s collection and an interesting footnote for any fan of Wells Tower.  You can find a copy of the disc at Metro/Sea.

[READ: September 30, 2011] Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

After talking about Wells Tower for a while and reading all of his uncollected stories and nonfiction, I finally got around to reading his short story collection.  And I think I have an interesting perspective on the book because at least two of the stories were totally reworked from their original release.  Not simply updating a thing or two, but totally revamped.  In my experience, aside from the David Foster Wallace essays that were truncated in their original form, this is the only book I know where the stories inside were totally rewritten for the compilation.

There are nine stories in the collection.  And I have to say as an overview to this book, I can’t get over how much I enjoyed them.  I mean, I knew I liked Tower from what I had read before, but I didn’t expect to enjoy this book quite so much because Tower writes a very manly kind of story.  He usually writes about tough guys and men who have a hard time interacting with their fathers and other situations that are out of my ken.  But Tower upends many conventions in his stories and his prose is tight and succinct and his stories are very quick to read and really enjoyable. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DO MAKE SAY THINK-Other Truths [CST062] (2009).

I’ve always enjoyed Do Make Say Think’s CDs.  They play instrumentals that are always intriguing and which never get dull.

But this CD far exceeds anything they have done so far (and  they’ve done some great work).   There are only four tracks, and they range from 8 to 12 minutes long.  Each track is named for a word in the band’s name: Do, Make, Say, Think.  And each one is a fully realized mini epic.

“Do” sounds like a gorgeous Mogwai track.  While “Make” has wonderfully diverse elements: a cool percussion midsection and a horn-fueled end section that works perfectly with the maniacal drumming.  “Say” is another Mogwai-like exploration, although it is nicely complemented by horns.  It also ends with a slow jazzy section that works in context but is somewhat unexpected. Finally, “Think” closes the disc with a delightful denouement.  It’s the slowest (and shortest) track, and it shows that even slowing down their instrumentals doesn’t make them dull.

It’s a fantastic record from start to finish.  This is hands down my favorite Constellation release in quite some time.

[READ: December 2009 – January 13, 2010] McSweeney’s #33.

The ever-evolving McSweeney’s has set out to do the unlikely: they printed Issue #33 as a Sunday Newspaper.  It is called The San Francisco Panorama and, indeed, it is just like a huge Sunday newspaper. It has real news in (it is meant to be current as of December 7, 2009).  As well as a Sports section, a magazine section and even comics!

[DIGRESSION] I stopped reading newspapers quite some time ago.  I worked for one in college and have long been aware that the news is just something to fill the space between ads.  I do like newspapers in theory, and certainly hope they don’t all go away but print issues are a dying breed.  When I think about the waste that accompanies a newspaper, I’m horrified.  Sarah and I even did a Sunday New York Times subscription for a while, but there were half a dozen sections that we would simply discard unopened.  And, realistically that’s understandable.  Given how long it took me  to read all of the Panorama, if you actually tried to read the whole Sunday paper, you’d be finished the following Sunday (or even two Sundays later).

Their lofty goal here was to show what print journalism can still do. And with that I concur heartily.  Even if I don’t read the newspaper, the newspapers as entities are worth saving.  Because it is pretty much only print journalism that finds real, honest to God, worthy news stories.  TV news is a joke.  There is virtually nothing of value on network TV.  Fox News is beyond a joke.  CNBC is sad (although Rachel Maddow is awesome!) and even CNN, the originator of all of this 24 hour news nonsense still can’t fill their airtime with non-sensationalized news.

Obviously, there are some decent internet sites, but for the most part they don’t have the budget to support real news investigation.  You either get sensationalized crap like Drudge or rebroadcasts of real news.

So, print is the last bastion of news.  And you can see that in journalistic pieces in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Walrus, Prospect and, yes, in newspapers.

But enough.  What about THIS newspaper?  Oh and unlike other McSweeney’s reviews I’ve done, there is NO WAY that I am writing a thorough comment on everything in here.  There’s just way too much.  Plus, there are many sections that are just news blurbs.  Larger articles and familiar authors will be addressed, however.  [UPDATE: January 18]: If, however, like Alia Malek below, you bring it to my attention that I’ve left you out (or gotten something wrong!) drop me a line, and I’ll correct things.

There is in fact a Panorama Information Pamphlet which answers a lot of basic questions, like why, how and how often (just this once, they promise!). There’s also a Numbers section which details the size, scope and cost of making this (it shows that with an initial start up, anyone could make a newspaper if they talked enough about what the readers were interested in). (more…)

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